What Are You Waiting For? DO IT.

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You know your “it”, a hobby, a new business venture, selling it all and hitting the road, all of the above. I just read an article about an inmate on death row who has been in prison for 17 years waiting to die due to a testimony from one witness: the person who killed the person Richard allegedly paid for the hit. His proclaimed innocence, the twisted version of justice (the person who did the killing did not receive the death sentence as part of his plea bargaining) are for a different post on a different blog. Reading Richard’s words, his viewpoint of the world, how he finds a way to laugh, to love, hope and his realizations that a good life need not be complicated, touched me. It made me realize I needed to hug my family more, give more love, more compassion and I needed to choose some new goals and get after them.

Some friends were joking the other night with the phrase “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” discussing various elements of decisions and personal safety. Jokes aside, it is a good question, one worth asking any time we have something pulling us forward, a calling from our heart, saying “trust me.”

A quote on my Facebook feed this morning said “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever could.” So true, so unnecessary.

92% of people don’t realize their New Year’s Resolutions, but many people don’t even get started. Take a step, do one thing towards a goal you have. Write down the goal right now, write down 5 steps you need to take to get it done, then do one. Wake up tomorrow, do the next one.

Rooting for you over here, you got this!

TLDR; Freaking do it.

 

 

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Tips for Crossing the Costa Rica/Panama Border with Children and a Car

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Tips for Crossing the Costa Rica/Panama Border with Children and a Car

This is Luis. Luis is a hustler. He helps confused gringos with too many bags cross the Panama/Costa Rica border. His only tools are a pen, mobile phone and people skills. I love meeting people like Luis because he reminds me that true entrepreneurial spirit isn’t about industry press, funding rounds, exit strategies, head count, taxes, etc. It’s about creating solutions to problems and busting your ass to make things happen. Thank you for being there when we needed you, Luis.

My family and I recently spent a two week trip in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. We have been traveling now for 53 days, to Mexico, U.S., Costa Rica, Panama and now we’re back in Costa Rica. With two kids and more luggage than we probably need (we spent Christmas with family in the U.S. and accumulated gifts), we wanted to drive our car south to the Panama border (Sixaola side) to get to Bocas. Traveling in a car means you don’t have to pack so neatly, so tightly. You have the opportunity to spend less mental effort in the traveling exercise. Here are some things I learned on our journey to and from the border.

1. Don’t take your car, it’s not worth it.
Unless you are traversing Latin America in your car, there is no reason to take it from Costa Rica to Panama. If you insist, here is an incredibly accurate way to do it, the photos are spot on and just remember you need to visit 5 offices. We were determined to do it, had our attorney do the appropriate paperwork (cost was $60 and two hours out of the way to meet him to pick it up after the initial meeting), I read up on getting the car to the ferry in Almirante, etc. All of that planning, time and money spent only to find out after visiting said offices, getting our car sprayed and spending about 2 hours in lines, than there is some new Panamanian law stating that a Costa Rican car can only come in if the person driving it is a Costa Rica Resident. Being that we’re 90 day border-jumping touristas, it didn’t matter that all paperwork had my name on it, all stamps, dotted i’s, t’s crossed, etc were in order, they wouldn’t let the car through. Luis spoke with someone who said we could come back later and they could help us out, but it was going to be a 3 hour wait and we were afraid that once we got the car into Panama, it would be difficult to get it out. So we parked it on the Costa Rica side in a parking lot (you can see it down the hill to the left if you walk out of the Costa Rica immigration office, $9/day). We rented a taxi/bus for our family of 4 for $40 from Sixaola to Almirante, but I know this can be cheaper if you share a bus with others and don’t have the bags we have. We travel alot, but our experiences are not what I would call the “light and cheap” type. We don’t waste money either, but if spending it is necessary, we do it, which brings me to my next point.

2. Utilize assistance, but go with your gut on things.
Luis, pictured above, was a huge help, both ways. As a father, traveling internationally can be extremely stressful to ensure the safety of your family, make sure everyone is where you can see them and remaining calm when children are distracted by literally everything. Some people are ridiculously independent, others are paranoid they’re getting ripped off. There’s something empowering about trusting someone, letting them do what they do, for a fee, so you can focus on other important things, like “do you have visual on her?” comments with your wife about your daughter. I was skeptical at first, a small handful of people were willing to help, from showing us parking spots to watching our car. Luis walked up, said “I help people cross the border, if you need me, I can help.” Then he brought over 4 immigration slips for me to fill out, asked if I needed a pen, and gave us space. Not only did he show me to all 5 offices, when the 5th one didn’t work out, he walked me back to those where he knew I would get a refund for the taxes and insurance. On top of that, Luis was waiting for us in Almirante with a driver and bus to help us on our way back.

My office for two weeks in Bocas Del Toro

3. Include your children in the process.
Ticos love children, it’s a wonderful thing. Panamanians do as well, we found out. In a long line of faces trying to get their documentation stamped, a smiling and waving child saying “hola!” can do wonders for your processing time. Families can go to the front of the lines and aside from maybe 2 sighs from those in a hot line, none of the officials care. At immigration they need to see faces anyway, so bring your kids up first, have them say hello and then they can go back to doing whatever you need them to do to remain occupied.

4. If you’re working, take the day off on border crossing days.
This isn’t always a luxury and our plans got snafu’d when our kids got sick in Puerto Viejo and had to be taken to the clinic. Doctor’s orders were that we had to stay until Monday, which meant our plan of crossing on Saturday were foiled. I usually try not to do meetings on Mondays anyway, but sometimes you have to be on calls when clients can and want to do so. Even if you’ve crossed a border before, you have no idea how long things can take and there’s very little (nothing) you can do to speed things up. Having a phone call scheduled before or after means you are rushing the crossing at one point of the day or the other. Reduce your level of stress, take the day off, especially phone calls and if you absolutely have things you need to do, they can wait until you get to your destination.

TLDR; Don’t take your car, ask for help, use your children as ambassadors and take more days off. :)

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Enjoying the Antifragility of a Location Independent Lifestyle

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I suffer from a deep seeded, subconscious, feeling that tells me that I should be doing something that sucks to make money. I often feel guilty about the amazing life I’ve created through a location independent business that finds me walking down a beautiful Gold Coast foot path on a sunny tuesday afternoon checking out the bikini-clad ladies cruising by on roller-skates and skateboards. Totally, 100% first rate problems… but problems none the less.
 
Growing up I was instilled with a work ethic that involved getting up at 6:30 am and working outside in the cold dirt all day. We build houses and this intense work ethic still lays the foundation for the way I see the world. It’s taken lots of leadership courses and business success to get me to the point now where I can say to myself, “It’s ok to be here. Keep going.”
 
It’s not like I work less. To be honest, I work all the time… but work is like play to me now. My company makes internet radio programs. We’re not millionaires yet, but we live lifestyles that I imagine many millionaires would be envious of.
 
So when I’m walking down a beautiful Australian on a tuesday afternoon, watching girls in bikinis; I’m also listening and taking notes for important books that will improve my decision making in the future. Books like Antifragile by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.
 
Antifragile is exactly what a location independent life is all about. It’s answering the question, “how do I build a life that improves with chaos?” If I were kicked out of Australia tomorrow, my business wouldn’t be effected. If the US economy collapsed tomorrow, my business would hurt, but because I have clients all over the world, I would simply have to restructure things.
 
We’re moving from the Gold Coast to Costa Rica soon and I see no impact on business. I’ll be able to cut down on expenses and the time zone will be better for working with a few clients in New York. But aside from that, there will be no impact on the business. That’s the anti-fragility of a location independent business.
 
Ian Robinson is a entrepreneur world traveler. You can listen to his podcast at LoveAffairTravel.com or learn more about self improvement at IanRobinson.net.

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Tips for Digital Nomads: Find the Perfect Place to Stay

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Being a digital nomad is a lot more than sitting at the beach with a laptop and a cocktail all day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it a number of times, but you’re going to be a lot more productive in a space that’s set up for work. For one, there’s not usually power or an internet connection at the beach, and you have a constant battle to keep your laptop from filling with sand! Your friends all envy your digital nomad lifestyle, but to become awesome you need planning –  especially if you want to simply up and change cities whenever you feel the inkling to move.

I’ve had so many friends tell me

“You get to work wherever you want, that’s freaking awesome!”

but there’s so much going on behind the scenes they never see. You need an iron clad will to balance work and travel, and personally I just want to get my work done, so I’m free to go out and enjoy the city I’m in. After a year and a half
as a remote freelancer, I’ve discovered a certain art in finding the right place to stay.

First you need to decide what you’re looking for. Do you want a fun social environment or peace and quiet to knock out a ton of work?

Hostels

Enjoy a party atmosphere and an unbeatable price on a dorm bed, and the best time to work is while everyone is out sightseeing. Combine this with a fun and social vibe as the evening kicks on, and you’ve got an ideal place to stay in almost every city. Check Hostelworld for the best deals or if you’re feeling adventurous Couchsurfing is another budget-friendly option.

Hotels

Perfect when you need to focus without any distractions and knock out massive work days. Combined with room service, a gym and even a swimming pool, and you’re all set. Agoda is a great site for hotels in Asia, or Booking.com for everywhere else in the world.

Apartments

This is my favourite because it’s more comfortable than a hotel when you’re staying somewhere for more than a week, and can be even better for your budget. Check out AirBnB to see your choices.

Must have

For the room there are basic necessities you need to get your work done effectively. Make sure that wherever you stay there is:

  • Internet. It’s impossible to work remotely without it, so double check there’s WiFi available.
  • Work space. A desk or table is essential, and saves your back from hunching over on the bed or the sofa.
  • Power points. Hard to judge, but conveniently located power points are vital for a remote office. Check the pictures and see if you can spot lamps (which mean power) on the desk, or on any bedside tables.
  • Kitchen. I don’t like eating out everyday, and cooking is a great downtime after 12 hours staring at my laptop.
  • Laundry. Being able to throw a load of washing on is a godsend, and saves you time that would otherwise be wasted sitting at a laundromat.
  • Size. The bigger the better, so find somewhere at least 40 square meters and you won’t mind being cooped up all day with your laptop.
  • A Separate Bedroom. Having a separate bedroom is fantastic if you’re travelling with your partner. It let’s you both have different areas to work, so you can get in the zone without being right on top of each other.
  • Location. Find a place with a large supermarket nearby to stock up on groceries, as well as being close to an internet cafe so you can change scenery whenever you need it. I like to be a little bit removed from the tourist centers to avoid all the commotion, so long as there are a couple of nice restaurants nearby.
  • Cleaning gear. Not the most exciting item on the list, but if you’re anywhere for more than a week it’s nice to be able to give the floors a sweep and keep your temporary home fresh.
  • Reviews. Read through what the others who stayed here have said. You don’t want to be stuck in a dark little apartment with dingy furniture and a shaky WiFi connection, so do your homework before you book!

If you follow this advice you’ll find the perfect place to get your work done, so you can get out and enjoy the best attractions in the city once you’re on down time.

The life of a digital nomad is unique, so set yourself up to work effectively and you’ll be out enjoying the local sights before you know it – as you live a lifestyle many others only ever dream about!

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Can Families Be Digital Nomads? (Resources for Information and Inspiration)

Location independence isn’t for the young and single only, although if you are, what have you got to lose?

I saw someone on a Digital Nomad forum ask this a couple of weeks ago. It seems a natural question as so many nomads appear to be single (or just a couple). I will be doing a video about this soon, but wanted to comment on this question, provide some resources and hopefully inspiration to anyone who currently has a family and is looking to go remote or is on their way to location independence and interested in starting a family in the future.

The short answer is ABSOLUTELY, my wife and I are living proof of successful remote professionals (we have two children, both under the age of 4). The speed of which you get things done and your flexibility to do things changes a little bit when you have children, but I sincerely believe it is a mindset. For some inspiration, I urge you to watch this wonderful, short video called The Only Road about a family traveling the world.

“You’re so lucky to be able to do this…”

Inevitably, when you make the decision to find a way to travel more or live in different places, you find a lot of people telling you how lucky you are. I always agree, knowing luck doesn’t play as big as a role as sure will to make it happen. That said, even among traveling families there are varying degrees of “I wish we could do that” and admittedly, when I first watched The Only Road, I literally said the same thing. You have to do what is best for you.

For my wife and I, what we’ve decided is best is to travel as much as possible, but also to live in different places while our children are young. Our daughter flew on 24 flights before her first birthday, she’s a traveling professional. Our choice, however, is not necessarily to be constantly nomadic, always on the move. We like having a home base and have had one in Tucson for the past two years, close to family. In March we’ll be living in Palm Springs, CA with some friends on a similar (same-same, but different) path, then we’re headed to Costa Rica on an open-ended trip. We think it may be 2 years and we’ve already discussed 1-2 month “jumps” to other countries while having Costa Rica as our home base during that time.

Additional Resources

One of the biggest motivators for me has been reading and exchanging stories with other people who have lived or are living this way. Here is a list of 10 sites/blogs to check out for great information and inspiration. If you have any questions, please feel free to use the contact page and ask. I’ll respond to emails as quickly as possible with any information or experiences I have.

Vagabond Family
MY LITTLE NOMADS
The Nomadic Family
World Travel Family
Travel with Bender
y Travel Blog
Bohemian Travelers
Going Anyway
Living Outside of the Box
Snaps and Blabs
With 2 Kids on Tow
Wagoners Abroad
Family on Bikes

If I’m missing any that should be added to the list, send an email or post a comment. :)

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Inspiring Wallpapers for Going Remote

We created some (hopefully) inspiring images/quotes for your desktop or background on the device of your choice. Part of making the leap is visualizing it happening as often as possible. Feel free to use or share these as you wish. Click the link or one of the images below for more…

Remote Control Wallpapers

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Great Video: Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love.

This TEDx Talk from Adam Baker is a couple of years old, but the simple truths he outlines about the Work > Buy > Debt cycle are timeless. “What Does Freedom Mean to You?” Answering that question is the most important thing you can do for yourself in your life to obtain true happiness. Life is a hustle, it just is. Make the hustle worth it!

My wife and I are in the middle of a big purge before our move. We went through one about 18 months ago when leaving San Francisco to move closer to family in Arizona. Now we’re going through it again, filtering, shedding more “things” to make room for experiences, flexibility and freedom. Admittedly, my hardest parts of the purge have been shoes and my motorcycle. A motorcycle is its own kind of freedom, but I can get another one. And I have a ridiculous amount of shoes. Along with watches they’ve been a pretty big weakness, purchase-wise. I can get more shoes if I want, but this process is helping me learn more and more that I don’t need all of the things I think I need. We didn’t “need” 50% of the stuff we brought with us from San Francisco to Arizona.

We actually did a pretty good job. Our goal of moving from a 1 bedroom apartment in the city (San Francisco) to a 3 bedroom house closer to the Catalina Mountains (Tucson) included us making a conscious and ongoing decision to not buy things to fill the space. We added a crib, a bookshelf, were given a queen bed for the guest bedroom and purchased chairs and small table to eat meals. After this move we’ll have everything we own in a 10′ x 10′ storage unit. Some art, antique lamps and warm clothes not worth taking with us.

Enjoy the video, hopefully it helps you realize what “crap” in your life is holding you back.

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